THOSE PACIFIC AMPHITHEATRE NIGHTS: The Golden State, it might confidently be said, is home to many celebrated concert venues, as well as epic, large-scale events that put the focus on music. So to compete among the many places, and opportunities, to enjoy music is to be in the swirl of a whole sound scene, one that demands that destinations stand out. One of the stand-out spots on the California venue concert roster isn't open all year long -- or even half the year -- but it has become a classic summertime must-do for many music lovers in the Orange County, San Diego, and LA areas. We speak, of course, of the Pacific Amphitheatre at the Orange County Fair, and the Toyota Summer Concert Series. A bevy of wayback acts, and now acts, and wayback acts that are also very au courant in feel and output, show up for the month-long run, a run that's maximized by its under-the-stars, kinda-near-the-midway setting. It's the quintessential ride-a-Ferris-wheel, eat-a-hot-dog, dance-to-your-fave-high-school-band kind of night, and those nights are revving up to start again, on July 15, 2016.
THAT'S OPENING DAY... at the OC Fair, and, yes, as of this typing, it is six months out, or just under. But wintertime is when the venerable county fair begins to slowly reveal its popular concert schedule, and the reveals began on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The opening night act? That'll be Styx, a band set on rockin' the Paradise -- and Costa Mesa -- on July 15. Comedian Jeff Dunham pops up on Thursday, July 28, and Hunter Hayes (along with special guest Cassadee Pope) is on stage on Aug. 5. As for the on-sale dates for this trio of nights? That's early, too: Jan. 23 is your go-to, get-your-tickets day. What will fill out the rest of the schedule? Stay tuned; the fair has been known to reveal a few at a time, months ahead of time, to stoke that summer night-style fervor. Does music sound better after you've spent time on the midway? That's up for debate, but the stars over the Pacific Amphitheatre most definitely add to its ambiance.